Dear Denis Dessus, President of the National Council of the Order of Architects,

Madam President of the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, dear Marie-Christine Labourdette,

Presidents and Directors of the National Institutes of Architecture,

Dear members of the jury,

Dear finalists of the National Grand Prix of Architecture,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

 

To be an architect is to refuse conventions and preconceived ideas, to rebel even against them when the refusal is not enough. It’s being creative, being free, not being influenced.”

These few words remind us of the greatness of your art.

They are not mine, but those of Paul Andreu, who left us a few days ago. Airports, theatres, stadiums and museums all around the world bear his signature. They showcase our architecture everywhere.

My thoughts are moved for him, his family and his loved ones, when I present the highest French distinction in the field: the Grand Prix national de l'architecture.

He was a laureate in 1977, the year of the founding law on architecture.

His work has never ceased to be faithful to the values of this award: excellence, audacity, avant-garde.

It’s an honor for me to present it tonight.

And a pleasure to welcome you, to the Ministry of Culture, to pay tribute to your profession, your trades.

This ministry is your ministry.

It is the ministry of all those who bring architecture to life: all artists who conceive and build it; who teach it; who protect it.

Through your creations today, you are building our heritage of tomorrow.

It is also a pleasure to launch the third National Architecture Days with you.

Three days, the first measure of the national architecture strategy.

Three days that allow the general public to discover your profession, its reality.

Three days that awaken eyes and curiosities.

Three days that are gradually becoming a major moment in our cultural life:

From 400 events for the first edition two years ago, we have grown to more than 1600 this year. I am delighted.

With your mobilization, everywhere in France, visits to construction sites, urban spaces and agencies are organized.

I want to commend the actions of all your networks, fully involved in the success of this new edition:

Thanks to the network of architectural, urban and environmental councils; the network of houses of architecture; the network of National Higher Schools of Architecture; the network of cities and countries of art and history.

Thank you also to the City of Architecture and Heritage, to Arc en Rêve; and to all the initiatives that you each carry out on the occasion of these Days.

Today, the first of these is reserved for young audiences. I am particularly sensitive to this: we must educate people’s eyes and make them aware of architecture from an early age.

Explain that architecture is not just about monuments. They are also our places of life or work; this is what surrounds us, everywhere in our territories, at any time.

Allow me to think about social housing in the Vaux neighbourhood, in Coulommiers, the area where I spent my schooling.

A district built by the Grands Prix Nationaux d'Architecture 1985, Michel Andrault and Pierre Parat.

A district that is characteristic of their “bleachers”, set up along a winding pedestrian walkway, offering real landscaped terraces… I had no idea that a Grand Prix de l'architecture signed such a daily construction, a construction so close to me.

That is the meaning of these days.

It is to allow each of us to become more aware of architecture in France.

And that is the first challenge we will collectively take up.

In France, architecture is faced with a paradox.

From the outside, the nations of the world envy us: It must be said that we are one of the few countries where architecture is declared of general interest. It’s a chance. The 1977 Architecture Act:

- Strengthened the regulated profession

- Put in place arrangements for exercising the architecture, access to the order guaranteeing the independence of the architect,

- Endow the CAUE with missions essential for our territories and the general public,

- And created the Interdepartmental Mission for the Quality of Public Construction.

To this a priori protective and favorable regulatory framework, we must add the deep attachment to architecture and architects on the part of the elected representatives of our territories.

I know this well, having been elected locally for 23 years, 10 of them as mayor. 

On the other hand, we are not short of talent.

20,000 architecture companies throughout France support tens of thousands of high value-added jobs…

… not to mention all the graduates in architecture who work in the communities, in the State, in the planners, in the training and research organizations, in the clients.

But from the inside, the reality that is yours is much more contrasted. I know it:

I know the economic fragility that threatens so many architects in all their diversity of status and experience.

I also know that a better balance of control is necessary.

One of the keys will be to put the architect back at the heart of our society’s expectations.

It is by combining architecture and heritage, by combining all national and territorial stakeholders, that we will achieve this.

This dynamic is already at work, thanks to the ongoing work of the mission «values of architecture».

It is part of the development and review of the ELAN Act.

On this subject, I hear the fears you have expressed.

This mission must make it possible to create the conditions for a better valuation of your business.

It brings together ten professionals around Marie-Christine Labourdette.

I want to acknowledge your commitment.

You conducted a series of hearings in Paris and in the regions. You have seen the energy and commitment of actors on the ground to promote architecture. You’ve also seen the challenges they face.

The first proposals for this mission will be submitted to me shortly.

We will then have the opportunity to share them with all of you.

To this need for a better consideration of architects, we must add the necessary enhancement of their work, their production. That’s the second challenge we have.

We need architects to meet the challenges of our time.

We need you to protect our environment. To renovate thermally, to adapt the building to the new uses of the inhabitants.

We need you to be at the forefront of this fight, for our planet. We owe it to future generations.

It is your role to wear sustainable architecture, which promotes the ecological transition. It is our priority. We are all convinced of its necessity.

It is also the role of elected officials and all those responsible to ensure the use of innovative techniques, new building materials such as eco-materials.

For example, in my riding, I fought to support and even encourage the construction of concrete hemp.

I will continue to fight this battle, as will innovation. The texts today allow us to conduct interesting experiments. We must reflect on this together. Because climate issues, issues of energy neutrality, of passive construction concern us all.

It is therefore up to us to transform, but also to preserve and enhance the built environment.

To bring it back to life.

Because the architecture of the XXe century and today, it is already our heritage!

 Roland Simounet, winner of the Grand Prix National de l'Architecture, said: «Don’t destroy anything until you’re sure you’re doing better».

If we don’t take care of it, in 200 years, the architectural history of France will stop at the XIXe century – even though 4 out of 5 French people live in a post-war building.

We can take action. So many neighbourhoods need to be reinvested.

In 2019, we will celebrate the 20the anniversary of the policy to label contemporary architecture, initiated by Catherine Trautmann and reinforced by the 2016 CASL law; a policy that accompanies the owners of buildings in a transformation respectful of their qualities.

This is an opportunity for the ministry to launch a major labelling campaign:

- In favour of the architecture of cultural facilities in our territories;

- And in favour of the creations and achievements of our National Architectural Grand Prix, precisely.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

For more than 40 years, the Grand Prix national de l'architecture has recognized the architects whose work and career have marked our country. The award of this prize will be accompanied by a book and an exhibition at the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine as well as a master-class for students in France and abroad.

I see among us some of the winners of past editions. I greet them warmly.

But before I unveil this year’s winner, I want to celebrate each and every one of you, for all that you bring to us.

You are creators; builders; committed artists. Committed to serving our territory, our environment, our daily lives.

Women and men who, every day, demonstrate all the beauty, all the added value that architecture is capable of instilling.

I would like to congratulate our six finalists:

- Dear Corinne Vezzoni,

- Dear Pierre-Louis Faloci,

- Dear Dominique Lyon and Du Besset – Lyon,

- Dear Philippe Madec,

- Dear Philippe Prost,

- And dear Bernard Quirot.

 

All of you, by your passion, your commitment, your desire to build with the existing, you are at the origin of an architecture of the future.

We will build this future together.

Rest assured.

Finally, I want to thank our high-quality jury for their investment.

After a rich debate, the winner of the 2018 edition was chosen.

The Grand Prix national de l'architecture is awarded to Pierre-Louis Faloci.

The jury recognized the exemplary nature of your career and your work, in terms of the aesthetic, ethical and constructive values of your work, as well as your commitment to serve social issues.

He pointed out that your architecture works for our society.

It brings the restraint, accuracy and depth required by the places of memory in which it settles:

- Mont Beuvray European Archaeological Centre in Glux-en-Glenne

- The Battle of Valmy Museum in Sainte-Ménehould

- 14-18 War Museum, Lens

- And of course the European centre for deported resistance fighters, on the site of the Struthof camp in Natzwiller

 

But the jury also noticed the great diversity of everyday architecture, which is practiced in the construction of housing.

Your work demonstrates that architecture is a whole. For each of them, you try to deal with the landscape, with the history and the memory of the places.

You are proof that architectural, urban, landscape and cultural issues are inseparable.

The jury felt this “eye culture”, which you refer to when talking about your work. Your works touch and move all those who approach and live them.

I would also like to commend the energy you put into developing and transmitting knowledge through your research and teaching.

Your architecture is a reference. Its contribution to the younger generation, and to society as a whole, is invaluable.

For all these reasons, the jury unanimously decided that the national grand prize should come to you this year.